8 GIFs That Explain the Death in My Family by Conor Burnett

Alice McGrath died three days ago. She was my Great Aunt, the sister to my Grandmother. Her body, that for as long as I knew her resembled wet cardboard, finally fell apart.


She was rotund and ill-defined. My Grandfather remarked that when side by side, my Grandmother and Alice looked like the number 10 and neither Alice nor my Grandmother had anything really to say about it. My Grandmother because she was being more or less complimented and Alice because she didn’t really ever have much to say.

They mailed us her credit card statements. I lined up her purchases with her last day as a functional human. The last meal that Alice willingly ate, that is it wasn’t pumped directly into her body by medical staff, was at a T.G.I. Fridays alone.

According to the credit card statements, the last human she talked to (with her faculties intact) was a QVC operator that night. She bought two Magic Bullets. Minutes after hanging up, the mozzarella sticks and cigarette gunk that occupied her veins collided and nothing could get through.

Alice never had any kids. Her uterus didn’t work. I was tasked with cleaning out her apartment. Amorphous junk piles were linked by moldy carpeting. It was impossible to tell the old stains from the new. The front closet was full of rotten Christmas decorations and that was it. There were four different tins of popcorn. Her coats were crammed under her bed. We asked her to Christmas every year towards the end and she was too ashamed and embarrassed to find a way for a woman her size to safely get to our suburban house 2 hours away. She would show up to Thanksgiving because my Uncle’s house was close enough to hers Access-A-Ride would be able to take care of her.  


Her bathroom was clean, especially by comparison. Her toilet was wedged between the sink and the wall. There was no way she could cram her massive misshapen body in that space. I don’t know what she did when she had to go to the bathroom. I’d like to think she’d leave the house to go to a bar or a café, where a bartender or waitress noticed her frail state and took care of her, but realistically she probably pissed in the tub and saved anything worse for work the next day.

None of her co-workers showed up to her funeral. The landlord showed up in Tommy Bahama shirt and flip-flops solely to drop off the Magic Bullets she ordered. My 12-year-old cousin made sure he got a seat in the front row so he could Instagram an unobstructed picture of her coffin. It’s from the front, so you can only see Alice’s stomach peeking out. It got 41 likes. We inadvertently left one of the Magic Bullets at the funeral parlor. We don’t know where the other one is.

Alice McGrath died childless with a stomach full of Awesome Blossom and a closet full of Christmases she never had and I just want you to think about her.


Conor Burnett is handsome and strong. If you give him 5 minutes, he'll try to convince you to like pro wrestling. He will fail. You can like whatever you want he guesses. And he just wants you to be happy.